Sunday, June 15, 2008

Royal Oak Farmer's Market and other farm news

I just have to say that I love the Royal Oak Farmers Market. It is a bit of a drive for me, but it has such a fantastic vibe!! I have always loved farmers markets, as a kid and as an adult I would go with my dad to the farmers market every Saturday morning. We would either eat breakfast and go, or go really early and then go out to breakfast. As an adult, we would meet there for our weekly treasure hunt!! The market that we frequented was the Oakland County Farmers Market.

As I learned more about Nourishing Traditions, The Weston A. Price Foundation , eating organic, and issues with our food supplies and what is healthy, I would not buy as much at the market. It is a great market, but they don't really have any organic growers that sell there. It got to be harder and harder to buy the conventional items and we joined a CSA in 2003 so we were getting a lot each week that way.

However, I think buying local is important. I will buy local over anything else, but if I can find local and organic, I am in food heaven!! My dairy farmer is at the Royal Oak Farmers Market every other Saturday. Picking up my milk there is something I choose to do because I get the chance to go there and load up! The market is open all year, but in the prime season (now--through summer and fall) it is crowded!! I made the mistake of not getting there until 10 am yesterday and my favorite vendor was out of carrots and beets as well as other things.

Another reason I love the market is that there are several organic farmers there as well as my dairy farmer and Hampshire Farms is there too selling great bread, baked goods, flour and grains. It is an all around great market!!

Yesterday, I got some swiss chard and garlic from Cinzori's Organic Farm. I love Mr. Don Cinzori and his entire family and staff. I often meet my friend Heidi at the market and we love to just chat with Mr. Cinzori for a while. He knows just about everything about growing things organically as he has been doing it for near 30 years (if I remember correctly) and he knows so many MI farmers that he is a great resource. My husband went to school with one of his sons, so we seem to have a built in affinity and connection with their family!! I know many of the farmers at the market and it is just nice to walk in and say hi and have them say hi back and chat a while!!

I missed out on the carrots, but the lovely person at Cinzori's booth dug through the box of left over carrot tops (which they take back to their farm and compost) and found a handful of small carrots that were mixed in. She tucked them in my bag and when I asked how much I owed her for them, she said they were a gift. They certainly were a gift, and one we have been eating with vigor and much joy!! YUMMM!! I missed out on the beets , so next time I go, I will be sure to get there early, Jay and the kids are still bummed we missed the beets as Jay wanted to make Beet Kvass and Rachel was whining cause she wanted Teryaki Beets! Maybe I will go next Saturday (although it isn't my week to get milk!!).

I also went and visited Michelle Lutz at Maple Creek Farm at the market. They had luscious fresh picked Michigan strawberries. Oh what a treat, the first picking!! All organic too. I bought a quart and could kick myself for not getting more. However, they were $5 a quart. I also got some garlic scapes and radishes from Maple Creek!!

Fruit prices in Michigan this year will most likely be higher than ever. Not only is fuel prices affecting the price, but so are other costs. Those that run a farm have been paying a lot more for everything and the price of grain is out the roof!! Organic grains are very hard to even come by if you can afford to pay the sky-high prices. I wanted some wheatberries recently and they just aren't available. The bakers are having trouble sourcing enough to make their bread so of course buying local, organic bread flour is going to be tough. Hopefully in the fall the new crops will come in and the supply will pick up!! We also had a late devastating frost this year and many farmers lost most if not all of their fruit crops.

The farm where we purchase our cherries lost their entire sweet cherry crop due to frost and their apples were severely impacted. Hopefully their tart cherries will be ok, but for sure the prices will be higher!! The orchard where we get our fabulous apples and cider also had frost losses. Apparently, he lost his honeycrisp crop (my favorite apples) and isn't sure how much of the rest of his crop will make it. We had short supplies last year too due to frost and we had a hard time getting apples and cider. We didn't get to make as much applesauce this year either and are already out. Our blueberry farmer said she did ok saving the bushes from the frost (with a lot of hard work, it is a lot to go water, cover and make sure the plants survive the frost!!) but that deer are eating the bushes, so we don't know what kind of blueberries we will get this year or how many. Not sure on the strawberries this year, but I hope we get our supply. We get them from Ware Farm in Bear Lake, MI and they are amazing. We make jam, freeze them for smoothies and other things and eat them fresh!!

My dad wants to go to the Royal Oak Farmers Market with me sometime, so that will be fun, a new twist on an old tradition!!

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